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Kim Jong-un tells Xi he will stay patient in denuclearization talks

June 21,2019
이미지뷰
Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, shakes hands North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ahead of their fifth summit during Xi’s state visit to Pyongyang Thursday. [XINHUA/YONHAP]
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said he will maintain “patience” as he expressed desire for progress in the dialogue to resolve Korean Peninsula issues during his fifth summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Pyongyang Thursday.

But Kim added that he would like the “relevant party,” indicating the United States, to meet North Korea’s concerns “halfway” in the dialogue progress, according to Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.

Xi was reported as saying that China is willing to play a “constructive role” in the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and supports a “political settlement” to the situation.

China’s Xinhua News Agency also reported that Xi said China is willing to provide assistance to address North Korea’s security and development concerns.

Xi also stressed that the Korean Peninsula issue is highly sensitive and complex, reported Xinhua, and said a “strategic and long-term perspective” is needed in the process of maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

The North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported Friday that Kim and Xi in their summit exchanged views on important international and regional issues, including the Korean Peninsula situation. It added that the two leaders pledged to develop regional peace and stability amid “serious and complex changes” taking place internationally and regionally.

Xi kicked off his first state visit to Pyongyang on Thursday as the world’s powers try to revive stalled denuclearization negotiations and received a grand welcome in North Korea.

Xi and his entourage landed in Pyongyang at around 11:40 a.m., reported Chinese state media, after departing from Beijing by private jet for the two-day trip earlier that morning.

The young North Korean leader and his wife Ri Sol-ju, as well as younger sister and closest aide Kim Yo-jong, greeted Xi and Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan at Pyongyang Sunan International Airport. As befitting a state visit, they received a 21-gun salute and a performance by a North Korean military band.

The Chinese delegation, according to Xinhua News Agency, included Foreign Minister Wang Yi; Yang Jiechi, director of the Chinese Communist Party’s Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission; Ding Xuexiang, director of the General Office of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and a key economic adviser; and He Lifeng, head of the National Development and Reform Commission, who presumably came to discuss economic cooperation projects with the North.

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho and other senior Pyongyang officials took part in the welcoming ceremony including notably Kim Yong-chol, Ri Yong-soo and Pak Pong-ju, vice chairmen of the ruling Workers’ Party.

Kim and Xi, in an open-top armored vehicle, were greeted by thousands of cheering North Koreans waving the two countries’ flags and pink and red flowers as the motorcade headed to the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, reported Chinese state television. This was the first visit by China’s head of state in 14 years following Chinese President Hu Jintao visit to Pyongyang in October 2005.

Xi was the first foreign leader to receive a welcome ceremony at the Kumsusan Palace, a mausoleum in Pyongyang honoring former leaders Kim Jong-il and Kim Il Sung.

Xi last visited North Korea 11 years ago in June 2008 as China’s vice president. This marked the fifth trip of a Chinese president since the two countries established diplomatic ties in 1949. Kim and Xi held summit talks later that afternoon, reported Xinhua.

Along with the denuclearization issue, the two countries were expected to discuss strengthening traditional friendly ties and economic cooperation, though options may be constricted by global sanctions on the North. China may offer humanitarian aid to the North, currently suffering from food shortages.

The two leaders attended a dinner banquet and later watched a mass gymnastics performance at the May Day Stadium in Pyongyang.

Xi was also expected to visit the Sino-North Korean Friendship Tower in Pyongyang, which honors Chinese soldiers who died in the 1950-53 Korean War. The two leaders were expected to hold a luncheon meeting today.

The two countries mark the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties this year.

Kim and Xi have previously held four summits, all in China. Their first took place in March 2018 as Kim emerged from his diplomatic isolationism and made a surprise trip to China via train, ahead of the first inter-Korean summit between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in the following month. Xi and Kim last met in Beijing in January.

China is North Korea’s longtime backer and largest trade partner.

Xi’s visit to Pyongyang comes ahead of a G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, where the Chinese leader is expected to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump.


BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]